Albany Police Chief John Proctor, standing left, is flanked by Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul as Gethsemane Worship Center Pastor Fredrick Williams, front left, and community activist David Blackwell listened to citizens concerns about community violence during a lunch gathering at the church on Tuesday.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Alarmed by the shooting deaths of two young men Sunday night, Fredrick Williams, pastor of the Gethsemane Worship Center and director of Taking Authority: Stop the Violence, held a community gathering Monday at the church.
Flanked by Albany Police Chief John Proctor and Dougherty County Sheriff Kevin Sproul, Williams told the packed house, "We must make a push in our communities to wake up and see what is going on in our neighborhoods. We cannot live in fear; we refuse to live in fear. We must react."
To that end, Williams announced a prayer vigil scheduled Thursday afternoon "around 5:30" near South Madison Street and Oakridge Drive.
Several of those in attendance expressed the hopes and fears of their neighborhoods.
On Sunday night, William Lamont Davis Jr. and Desmond Treon Williams were killed while standing near a vehicle outside a residence at 514 Willard Ave. when the occupants of another vehicle drove by and opened fire.
Dougherty County prosecutors say the victims were Blood gang members.
"I live on a street away from where the incident took place," Willie Stephens said. "We have to do something to combat the apathy in our community. We have people shooting kids, and nobody called to get them off of the street."
A woman who refused to give her name said, "The biggest problem we got is kids raising kids. We need to band together and take our streets back."
"I live in the southside, and I don't feel safe walking in my neighborhood," Ingrid Wilcox said. "There are still young men out on the street doing the same thing as what happened Sunday."
Terry Holt said he could identify with those young men because he was once one of them.
"I came up on the streets myself, and I thought I had to deal dope, steal and rob to survive," Holt said. "There is so much talent out there that is being wasted. I know because I deal with them every day. I tell them God transformed me and that somebody cares and loves them."
Katie Williams added there is still hope for the future.
"I still believe there is hope for our youth," she said. "They need to know that they are destroying their own communities. A lot of these killings from these gangs is over stupid stuff. There is something going on in their minds that we aren't getting."
"These kids know each other. Sometimes they are related, and they are killing each other," Proctor said. "We have to stop this; we have to save our kids."